On August 7, voters in Missouri will vote on Constitutional Amendment 2, commonly referred to the as the "right to pray" amendment.
Both supporters and critics agree that the bulk of the amendment simply re-numerates rights already in the U.S. and Missouri constitutions that compel the government to respect religious liberty, with the ballot summary providing a boring retread of what Missouri students would recognize as the Free Exercise clause of the 1st Amendment, if schools still taught things instead of engaging in interminable battles about school prayer…
A "yes" vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to provide that neither the state nor political subdivisions shall establish any official religion. The amendment further provides that a citizen's right to express their religious beliefs regardless of their religion shall not be infringed and that the right to worship includes prayer in private or public settings, on government premises, on public property, and in all public schools. The amendment also requires public schools to display the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution.
Sounds repetitive and unnecessary, but not destructive! Left out of the ballot summary, however, is a provision in the actual amendment that says "no student shall be compelled to perform or participate in academic assignments or educational presentations that violate his or her religious beliefs."
We need to talk, Missouri. Do you know the varieties of religious belief that exist in the United States? And the varieties of religious belief that will exist once students realize that they can be exempt from homework assignments that "that violate his or her religious beliefs?" Just try giving Algebra work to a bunch of kids belonging to the Linear Equations Are the Work of the Devil faith.
Above all, this law is unnecessary. Given that just 32% of Missouri students achieved proficiency on the 2011 National Assessment of Education Progress exam, it's not like we need a constitutional amendment guaranteeing a student's right not to learn.
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Tags: Education, Missouri, Religion